University of South Carolina Aiken music and theater students are testing their skills as they prepare for the school's upcoming spring production of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Mikado.
"Learning the music itself took months to complete," said Matt Cabill, who plays Ko-Ko, the Japanese lord high executioner in this tale of love, hidden identities and fake executions.
The operetta features 250 pages of music and only 15 pages of dialogue, said Dr. Jack Benjamin, who is directing the piece.
Dr. Benjamin said he has wanted to do a Gilbert and Sullivan composition at the college for several years.
In addition to learning the intricate musical score, Mr. Cabill said there were other details that have challenged the cast.
On April 1, Mr. Cabill worked with the males in the cast on a number involving Japanese fans. The singers had their notes right, but the timing of opening and closing the fans needed extra practice.
Also, the characterization is more difficult than in a modern show, Mr. Cabill said.
"This is a period piece," he said. "You have to think about Japanese characteristics and attitudes, but not a stereotype."
The Mikado will be staged April 20-23 at the University of South Carolina Aiken Etherredge Center.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.